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Artists Henry Moore
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Henry Moore

British Sculptor

Movements and Styles: Surrealism, Primitivism in Art

Born: July 30, 1898 - Castleford, Yorkshire, England

Died: August 31, 1986 - Much Hadham, East Hertfordshire, England

Henry Moore Timeline

Quotes

"The artist works with a concentration of his whole personality, and the conscious part of it resolves conflicts, organized memories, and prevents him from trying to walk in two directions at the same time."
Henry Moore
"Now I really make the little idea from clay, and I hold it in my hand. I can turn it, look at it from underneath, see it from one view, hold it against the sky, imagine it any size I like, and really be in control, almost like God creating something."
Henry Moore
"The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for the rest of your life. And the most important thing is, it must be something you cannot possibly do."
Henry Moore
"Sculpture is an art of the open air... I would rather have a piece of my sculpture put in a landscape, almost any landscape, than in, or on, the most beautiful building I know."
Henry Moore

"A sculptor is a person who is interested in the shape of things, a poet in words, a musician by sounds."

Henry Moore Signature

Synopsis

Henry Moore was the most important British sculptor of the 20th century, and the most popular and internationally celebrated sculptor of the post-war period. Non-Western art was crucial in shaping his early work - he would say that his visits to the ethnographic collections of the British Museum were more important than his academic study. Later, leading European modernists such as Picasso, Arp, Brancusi and Giacometti became influences. And uniting these inspirations was a deeply felt humanism. He returned again and again to the motifs of the mother and child, and the reclining figure, and often used abstract form to draw analogies between the human body and the landscape. Although sculpture remained his principal medium, he was also a fine draughtsman, and his images of figures sheltering on the platforms of subway stations in London during the bombing raids of World War II remain much loved. His interest in the landscape, and in nature, has encouraged the perception that he has deep roots in traditions of British art, yet his softly optimistic, redemptive view of humanity also brought him an international audience. Today, few major cities are without one of his reclining figures, reminders that the humanity can rebound from any disaster.

Key Ideas

The foundation of Moore's approach was direct carving, something he derived not only from European modernism, but also from non-Western art. He abandoned the process of modeling (often in clay or plaster) and casting (often in bronze) that had been the basis of his art education, and instead worked on materials directly. He liked the fierce involvement direct carving brought with materials such as wood and stone. It was important, he said, that the sculptor "gets the solid shape, as it were, inside his head... he identifies himself with its center of gravity."
Related to his commitment to direct carving was a belief in the ethic of 'truth to materials.' This was the idea that the sculptor should respect the intrinsic properties of media like wood and stone, letting them show through in the finished piece. A material had its own vitality, Moore believed, "an intense life of its own," and it was his job to reveal it.
During the 1930s, Moore's most fruitful and experimental decade, he was influenced by both Constructivism and, to a much greater extent, Surrealism. From the former he came to appreciate the importance of abstract form, from the latter he derived much of his interest in lending a human and psychological dimension to his sculpture. But Surrealism also shaped his mature style. It encouraged his love of biomorphic forms, and also suggested how the human figure could be fragmented into parts and reduced to essentials.
Moore's interest in non-Western art gave much of his early work a frontal character, yet as he matured he became more interested in utilizing three dimensions. It was this which led him to introduce 'holes' into his sculptures, so that the object almost seems to grow out of an absent center.
Just as the human body inspired Moore's forms, so too did the natural world. He often derived ideas from objects such as pebbles, shells and bones, and the way he evoked them in his sculpture encouraged the viewer to look upon the natural world as one endlessly varied sculpture, created continually by natural processes. Evoking both the natural world and the human body simultaneously in his work, Moore created a picture of humanity as a powerful natural force.

Biography

Henry Moore Photo

Childhood

Henry Moore was born in Castleford in Yorkshire, on July 30, 1898. The seventh of eight children of a mining engineer and homemaker, Moore was encouraged by his often financially struggling father to pursue higher education and a white collar career. And his father's strong opposition to the harsh physical lifestyle of mining created conflict when Moore later chose sculpting as his vocation, a job his father regarded as manual labor. Inspired by Michelangelo, Moore began modeling in clay and wood at his school in Castleford, where several of his siblings had attended and to which he had been granted a scholarship.

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Henry Moore Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Henry Moore
Interactive chart with Henry Moore's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
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Personal Contacts

Barbara HepworthBarbara Hepworth
Ben NicholsonBen Nicholson
Herbert ReadHerbert Read
Roland PenroseRoland Penrose

Movements

ConstructivismConstructivism
SurrealismSurrealism
VorticismVorticism
Primitivism in ArtPrimitivism in Art

Influences on Artist
Henry Moore
Henry Moore
Years Worked: 1928 - 1980s
Influenced by Artist

Artists

William TurnbullWilliam Turnbull
Phillip KingPhillip King
Anthony CaroAnthony Caro

Personal Contacts

Barbara HepworthBarbara Hepworth
Herbert ReadHerbert Read
Ben NicholsonBen Nicholson

Movements

SurrealismSurrealism
Public SculpturePublic Sculpture

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